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Beyond The Forecast: New urban heat island project this summer in Roanoke

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Happy Monday! The hotter summer months are here and if you live in one of southwest Virginia’s cities, you’re likely to feel the increased temperatures more than someone who lives out in the country.

This phenomenon is known as the “urban heat island." According to the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), highly-developed urban areas can experience mid-afternoon temperatures 15 to 20 degrees higher than surrounding areas that are more vegetated.

Why do we care? Well, the hotter temperatures can cause increased risk for respiratory and heat-related illnesses along with increased energy consumption and pollutant and gas emissions.

We do have ways to combat the urban heat island effect. These include planting more trees along streets, whitewashing roofs, roads and parking lots, allowing more access to public air conditioning and varying heights of new buildings to increase airflow and create shade canyons.

The NIHHIS is partnering with NOAA and CAPA Strategies LLC this summer to study the urban heat island in Roanoke and 12 other cities in the U.S. With sensors mounted on their cars, volunteers will drive planned routes three times per day, recording temperatures, humidity and their exact location every second.

The goal is to determine which areas of the city get hottest at specific times during the day. The Science Museum of Virginia’s Dr. Jeremy Hoffman has been doing similar work in Richmond on the topic.

We have reached out to a NOAA organizer about tagging along with one of the volunteers as they’re doing this important work this summer. You’ll see that story on 10 News and

Switching gears to the forecast, temperatures will stay on the warm side over the next seven days, but we’ll see some fluctuations with humidity levels and storm chances. The remnants of the tropical storm that made landfall in Louisiana Sunday could play a role in our weather later this week. Your Local Weather Authority meteorologist Chris Michaels has a great write-up of what we’re tracking here.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, Highlands, or elsewhere around southwest and central Virginia, anytime at Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather content on Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

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-- Justin McKee

About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.